Last week Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and while it would be great to say that I had an amazing, multicultural, history-filled program planned, I really just used the day off of school to get teens to the library.
The previous year, the teen librarian had them do Post-It Art on the big windows in the teen room. I probably would have stolen that idea again, but I thought I’d give the teens a bit more agency in design. Inspired by this home-based art project, I wanted to get the teens to COVER the windows with tissue paper.
We decided at January’s Teen Library Council to make our design an explosion of fandoms – the Deathly Hallows symbol, the Mockingjay pin, 221B Baker Street, the black & white clouds from The Fault in Our Stars, symbols from Star Wars, manga, Narnia, and anything else we could think of.
- Print-outs of the source material (all of the above)
- Small cups/bowls (we used ice cream bowls) and foam brushes
- Watered-down Elmer’s glue
- Tissue paper
- Window markers (optional)
We used some window markers that I already had to draw designs on the window. Then you just use a foam brush to paint on some watered-down glue and apply the tissue paper. I recommended that they cut/tear up small-ish pieces (like, the size of a business card or smaller). The tissue paper has a tendency to NOT do what you expect, so trying for anything precise is not worth your time. The unfortunate result of using the window markers was that the ink started coloring the glue. Also, I should have told them not to press so hard on the brushes – sometimes the glue ran down the windows in streaks.
This program was a great success! I had 12 teens show up (that’s a lot for our library!) with the promise of donuts and hot chocolate. Once the donuts were gone, they were gone, and we have a big can of hot chocolate mix. And the teens had a lot of fun. I think this program was a success, because 1) everyone basically got to pick their own design, 2) I promised donuts, and 3) this is a sneaky art project. If I told the teens to just PAINT the windows, they’d say, “but I can’t paint.” This way, they just had to draw an outline and fill it in with tissue paper. Also, the teens got to climb on the couches without shoes, which they thought was just the best. Maybe not the cleanest or efficient of art, but it was definitely fun!
Halfway through, I noticed no one had done the Mockingjay symbol, so I took care of that.
I love seeing the finished project. It’s not quite like how I envisioned the windows – I thought the whole window would be covered with tissue paper – but I love it because it’s the teens’ work and not mine (other than the Mockingjay).
All in all, a great public art project for teens. Use any windows in your library! Make it a recurring program, where they add new pieces all the time (I’m hoping to add a TARDIS to our windows). Very easy prep, and it always looks great.